Camilla, Cole, and Rebecca here, reporting from Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport, ME. These past ten days, we were lucky enough to be a part of a twelve-student research group who went down to The Island School to work with professional scientists on specified topics of interest. Broken into three four-person groups, we developed and executed our own methodologies in order to collect data.
Field work was a major part of our experience. Spending three full days in the field, principle investigators helped us in conducting field research, analyzing data sets, and synthesizing a presentation which was then given orally to the rest of the group and Island School staff. From snorkel transects off the coast of the Schooner Keys to seine net corralling in jellyfish-infested mangroves, swimming with sharks to tagging sea turtles, we learned both the principles of research and how to have fun conducting it.
Aside from research, we were exposed to many other quintessential Island School activities. Each morning, we started off the day with morning exercise, whether it was a relaxing game of beach volleyball or a strenuous run-swim. At meal times, our whole crew made an effort to mingle with the staff and resident scientists. If we were lucky, we tagged along to dish crew, an activity often swallowed with a spoon full of sugar – that is, sing-alongs. On days we weren’t conducting research, we squeezed in as many activities as possible. Many days, we found ourselves floating above a stunning coral reef. On others, we marched through the treacherous caverns of Hatchet Bay Cave and the even more confounding grass fields on the other side of it. Some who were certified even got to scuba dive to “the cage”. When we could grab a quick moment of downtime in our hectic schedule, we shuffled a deck of cards and played while overlooking the cerulean waves.
In the evenings, we looked in on professional presentations, delivered by graduate students and professional scientists. During these sessions, we learned that eating lionfish can help save coral reefs, tropical lizards may benefit from climate change, and many shark species of the deep ocean have not yet been discovered.
In addition to the scientific knowledge we gained on our expedition, we fully engaged in the Island School way of life––learning about the concept of sustainable living. Though taking navy showers, feeding monstrous pigs, and adhering to the rule “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” at first appeared tests of our mental stamina, we soon grew accustomed to, and perhaps even fond of, the “leave no trace” of this wonderful place.
As excited as we currently are to hug our parents and sleep in some clean sheets, we will all miss the Island School and the intrinsic beauty of Cape Eleuthera dearly. As a wise group member once said: “Anticipate it when it’s coming, cherish it when it’s here, and remember it when it’s gone”, we did, we have, and we most certainly will.
Continue to lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland!